JOSEPH DELANEY (1904 - 1991) Artist's Studio Party.
Oil on linen canvas, 1940. 971x1216 mm; 38 1/4x47 7/8 inches. Signed in oil, lower right.
Provenance: the estate of the artist; Harvey D. Peyton, Charleston, WV; private collection, Illinois.
Exhibited: Invisible Americans, Black Artists of the '30s, the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, 1968; Joseph Delaney: Retrospective Exhibition, Ewing Gallery of Art and Artchitecture, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, June 6 - July 20, 1986, with the label on the frame back; Life in the City: The Art of Joseph Delaney, Ewing Gallery of Art and Artchitecture, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, September 10 - October 31, 2004; Higher Ground, Knoxville Museum of Art, Knoxville, TN, loan to permanent exhibition, 2019.
Illustrated: Sam Yates, Joseph Delaney: Retrospective Exhibition, p. 12; Federick C. Moffatt and Sam Yates, Life in the City: The Art of Joseph Delaney, p. 53.
Artist's Studio Party is the largest and most significant painting by Joseph Delaney to come to auction. This important painting is part of his expressive body of work recording the lives of New Yorkers. Joseph Delaney gives the viewer a fascinating view of the downtown artist's scene - painting in thin layers with a dark, somber palette.
Joseph Delaney became a long time resident of the West Village shortly after moving to New York to join his brother Beauford in 1930. Frederick Moffatt describes how Delaney lived in various garrets and lofts within a small area of the Village and Soho between 1931 and 1959. In 1940, Delaney lived on Sullivan Street, near West Third Street. Sam Yates wrote this painting was inspired by a party he gave friends earlier at 26 Bond Street.
In 1930, Joseph Delaney first studied at the Art Students League where he studied figure drawing with George Bridgman and human anatomy with Thomas Hart Benton. From 1934 to 1940, Delaney worked on various WPA projects in New York including the Index of Design for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Pier 72 mural, and with Norman Lewis on the Story of the Recorded Word mural at the New York Public Library. In 1942, Delaney eventually join the easel division just before the WPA was disbanded, and was also awarded a Julius Rosenwald travel fellowship of $1,200, which he used to work and travel down the Eastern coast, from Maine to South Carolina.
Artist's Studio Party inclusion in the Studio Museum in Harlem exhibition Invisible Americans helped cement Joseph Delany's reputation as an important figure of the 1930s. In his Artforum review of February of 1969, Robert Pincus-Whitten hailed Joseph Delaney; "a single artist of tremendous merit was revealed to me in terms of a developed, tough, and by moments self-mocking Expressionism". Pincus-Whitten describes Village Studio Party as a "scene of group camaraderie an image of what must have seemed then to be the daring option of depicting a white girl dancing with a black man." In another studio painting, Artist's Party, circa 1942, Delaney includes himself seated at a poker game in an artist's apartment alongside a figure he later identified as Jackson Pollock. Both paintings are described in Frederick C. Moffatt's biography Life and Times of Joseph Delaney, 1904 - 1991 and are recognized for taking the viewer into the "sanctified" space of the artist's studio. Moffatt p. 167; Moffat/Yates p. 53; Pincus-Whitten p. 66; Yates p. 12.